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Ten Years of Summer Shade Fun in Grant Park!

By Carrie Whitney
One of the best ways to enjoy historic Grant Park is at the annual Grant Park Summer Shade Festival. Held at the end of August and now in its tenth year, Summer Shade brings an Artist Market; live music and entertainment; fast, fun and gourmet food; the Kids Zone; and more to the park for a weekend of outdoor merriment. Even better, the festival benefits the Grant Park Conservancy – the organization responsible for taking care of city’s oldest green space.
The Summer Shade Festival kicks off with the Adams Realtors 5K Run for the Park on Saturday morning. Pre-registration is available at, and onsite registration begins at 7:00am. The 5K is a fantastic way for runners and walkers to enjoy the beautiful historic neighborhood on foot, and it also raises money for the Conservancy.
Following the run, Summer Shade opens at 10:00am Saturday with a juried and a non-juried Artist Market, including hundreds of artists working in all types of media, from jewelry to pottery and from painting to wearable art. Many old and new artists will be in attendance, including last year’s Best of Show winner Benchwork Jewelry by Grant Park resident Leigh Griffin.
The crafty and fine art is accompanied by live music on two stages featuring a wide variety of genres–it always sounds best in the open air! Performers this year include Chapel Hill’s The Old Ceremony, Atlanta’s The Whiskey Gentry, and The Higher Choir, as well as Grant Park’s own Jimmy Galloway and The Front Porch Session Players. A full list of bands and set times are available on the festival’s website.
For the younger set, the Kids Zone includes an extensive lineup of performers, artists, storytellers, and musicians, as well as lots of hands-on artistic activities. Every kid’s favorite, the Spider Jump, returns this year too.
While the festival grounds are dotted with food vendors of many types, gourmands will want to head to Corks & Forks: A Fine Food & Wine Event, which takes place during Summer Shade in the pavilion. This ticketed area welcomes several of the city’s outstanding chefs and pairs their summertime fare with wine and beer sampling, cooking demos, a chef grill-off and more. Corks & Forks tickets are available in advance at at the Conservancy booth at the Sunday Grant Park Farmers Market or onsite.
Sunday at Summer Shade offers more of the same al fresco fun, but rather than starting the day with a 5K, attendees will want to head to the Grant Park Farmers Market, which opens at 9:30am. The market is an excellent place to find everything from mushrooms to donuts and it’s all grown or made locally. The festival opens at 11:00am, and keeps the party going all day with more art, music, food, and fun all ages.
Don’t miss the 10th Annual Grant Park Summer Shade Festival Saturday and Sunday, August 25 and 26. Find more information at

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